On Friday, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted in favor of allowing practicing homosexuals, in committed relationships, to hold positions of authority within the sect, reports Thaddeus M. Baklinski, LifeSiteNews.com.
By a vote of 559 to 451 at last week’s national convention, representatives of the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States decided “to open the ministry of the church to gay and lesbian pastors and other professional workers living in committed relationships.”
“The actions here change the church’s policy, which previously allowed gays and lesbians into the ordained ministry only if they remained celibate,” ELCA information director John Brook told AFP.
“This is not simply rules and procedures for implementing something new,” said Rev. Stanley Olson, executive director of ELCA Vocation and Education. “We have these policies because we are committed to having the kind of leaders who will serve the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who will respect this church and other churches, and who will have the world in view.”
Members of Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Reform), representing over 400 conservative congregations that fought against the homosexualist resolution, renounced the ELCA vote.
“ELCA has broken faith with its members and Lutherans worldwide,” CORE said in a statement released on Friday.
“Lutheran CORE is continuing in the Christian faith as it has been passed down to us by generations of Christians,” Rev. Paul Spring, chairman of Lutheran CORE, said in the statement. “I am saddened that a Lutheran Church that was founded on a firm commitment to the Bible has come to the point that the ELCA would vote to reject the Bible’s teaching on marriage and homosexual behavior. It breaks my heart.”
Rev. Spring said CORE will encourage ELCA members and congregations to withdraw financial support from the denomination.
“Lutheran CORE leaders are inviting faithful Lutheran congregations and individuals to direct funding away from the national church body because of the decisions made this week by the Churchwide Assembly. Lutheran CORE will participate in and support faithful ELCA ministries, but cannot support ELCA ministries that reject the authority of God’s Word,” the group’s statement stated.
Rev. Richard Mahan, pastor at St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Charleston, W.Va., told AFP that he believed a majority of his congregation would want to now break away from the ELCA.
“This will cause an ever greater loss in members and finances. I can’t believe the church I loved and served for 40 years can condone what God condemns,” Mahan said. “Nowhere in Scripture does it say homosexuality and same-sex marriage is acceptable to God. Instead, it says it is immoral and perverted.”
Lutheran CORE announced it will hold a convention in Indianapolis, September 25-26, to plan its further response to the ELCA announcement.
Report from the Christian Telegraph